TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been losing players to season-ending injuries at a rate of one per week this season. And it appears that attrition rate will continue for at least a little while longer.
As they began preparing for their Week 14 game against Buffalo, the Bucs learned Monday that starting strong-side linebacker Jonathan Casillas will need surgery to repair a knee injury and is likely lost for the season.
Schiano confirmed the need for surgery on his Monday evening radio show.
Casillas suffered the injury late in the team's 27-6 loss at Carolina on Sunday and will likely become the 14th Tampa Bay player placed on season-ending injured reserve this season.
“If he needs surgery he'll be done for the season, and it looks that way right now,'' Schiano said earlier in the day Monday.
Schiano was otherwise pleased with the health of his team coming out of Sunday's loss, including that of cornerback Darrelle Revis.
For the second week in a row, Revis had to leave the game early because of injury, but Schiano didn't seem too concerned about being without Revis for this week's game against the Bills.
“Darrelle, I think, is going to be OK,'' Schiano said. “Initially he came off the field and he had some pain in his upper torso area. Then they examined him inside. I don't think it's that serious, but we'll see.''
Schiano's optimism aside, Revis appears to be losing a battle of attrition all his own. He had a groin injury at Detroit on Nov. 24 last week and was complaining about more than just an upper torso injury following the loss at Carolina.
Revis said he also hit his head on the turf when he suffered what the Bucs originally said was a shoulder/chest injury, but Schiano said he didn't know of Revis suffering from any lingering concussive-like symptoms.
“I know there are a lot of things hurting him,'' Schiano said. “But I'm sure if there's anything (along the lines of a concussion, head trainer) Todd (Toriscelli) will go through the protocol with it.''
The groin and upper torso injuries are, of course, just the latest ailments Revis has had to fight. He's spent the entire season working his way back from a 2012 season-ending knee injury, and it looks like those nagging aches and pains may finally be taking a toll.
Though Revis still ranks first among all cornerbacks in ProFootballFocus's coverage statistics, he had one of his worst games of the year Sunday, allowing three of the five balls thrown his way to be caught.
One of those receptions resulted in a touchdown early in the second half when Panthers wideout Ted Ginn Jr. drew Revis inside with a hitch move, then ran past him on the outside before making the catch on a 36-yard pass play. Revis was hurt one series later when he dove for and nearly intercepted a pass targeted for receiver Steve Smith.
Schiano believes Revis can continue to play at a high level even if he's slowed by his upper torso problem.
“Oh, he'll be effective,'' Schiano said. “He's not only a great player, he's a pro and he's a warrior and he'll fight through whatever discomfort he has and play if he can play.''
If Revis can't play, the Bucs will once again lean on rookie Johnthan Banks to cover their opponent's top receiver. The likely loss of Watson, meanwhile, no doubt means more work for Dekoda Watson.
Watson has bounced between linebacker and defensive rush end in recent weeks, so his role probably won't change much. But he is likely to get more snaps with Casillas on the sideline.
“It's a typical NFL season,'' Watson said of the loss of another Bucs regular. “It's nothing I'm surprised about. You just have to keep on going and when your number is called, you've got to be ready to go.''
The Bucs have been following that protocol since before the season began, when kicker Connor Barth had to be placed on the non-football injury list with an Achilles tendon tear he suffered in a charity basketball game.
Schiano, though, has yet to point to injuries as one of the reasons for his team's struggles through what is now a 3-9 season. On Monday, for example, he put more of the blame for the latest loss on himself.
“When you don't win you better look in the mirror first,'' Schiano said. “I can sit here and say, 'We missed tackles,' or, 'We didn't do this and didn't do that,' but I have to look in the mirror and ask, 'What didn't we do as coaches?'
“And when I looked back at this one I just didn't feel like, when I left the field, that I had helped (our players) enough. There wasn't anything in particular. I just felt like we left an opportunity on the table yesterday. I felt like we let one get away.''